Contemporary indigenous-popular movements in Bolivia and across Latin
America have created a politics that has coalesced into a forceful and
e√ective critique of the neoliberal state, from Chiapas to Cochabamba.
Ethnographic examination reveals that El Alto has been such an important
focus for this new politics in large part because of the ways that citizen-
ship of the city is constituted as a mediated relationship between citizen
and state that is shaped by the structure of collective civic organization
parallel to the state at zone, citywide, and national levels. In 1999, the
political party Condepa lost its hold over those organizations and over the
city in general, enabling a more oppositional stance to emerge; this coin-
cided with the fact that alteños have been radicalized by increasing eco-
nomic hardship. The protests of September and October 2003 and subse-
quent years derive their strength from the combination of these particular
political circumstances with much more long-standing processes of iden-
tification with the countryside and the construction of a collective sense of
self. In this book I have explored these political processes ethnographi-
cally and sought to articulate them in terms of a theory of citizenship.
What they reveal are the complexities of being indigenous in Latin Amer-
ica at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Citizenship in the in-
digenous city of El Alto involves a mix of urban and rural, collectivism
and individualism, egalitarianism and hierarchy. The alternative visions of
democracy that are being produced have reinvigorated national and re-
gional indigenous movements by the ways that they combine class-based
and nationalist concerns with identity politics, through the contestation
over the ownership of the means of social reproduction (Garcia Linera
2001) and the nature of the state. This helps to forge an inclusive indige-
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